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Violence, The North And The NYSC by good2great: 10:28pm On Apr 21, 2011
Set up in 1973 in an attempt at reconciling and rebuilding the country after the civil war, the Nigerian Youth Service Corps stands today as one of the most effective unifying factors in a country split across deep ethno-religious fault lines. As most Nigerian states tend to have a dominant ethnic group with their attendant traditions and cultural systems, most graduates get their first real exposure to other ethnic groups and cultures during the one year of compulsory youth service. Testimonies abound of the success of the scheme at: inculcating discipline; positioning graduates to give back to society; exposing youth to the many colourful cultures that make up the Nigerian nation; and, most importantly, promoting national unity and integration. Serving corps members teach in schools, provide primary healthcare, staff offices and even voluntarily form associations in a bid to contribute to the quality of life in their host communities. By many standards, the Nigerian Youth Service Corps scheme has achieved a lot over the past few decades.

Therefore, it is disappointing that serving corps members frequently fall victim to strife in their host communities — strife which most often arises out of the many differences in culture, religion, ethnicity and perspective they were sent there to bridge in the first place.

In the aftermath of the 2011 presidential elections, the past few days have seen irate youth in some parts of the north take to the streets in protest at the loss of their preferred candidate, Muhammadu Buhari. Reportedly, the Sultan of Sokoto — widely accepted as the spiritual head of Nigerian Muslims — was pelted with sachets of water; mosques, churches, government buildings and INEC offices were burnt; even the residences of Namadi Sambo, the vice president, and the Emir of Zazzau — among other notable Northern personalities — were also razed. Sadly, serving corps members were not left out.

John Abakasanga, the commissioner of police in Bauchi State, has confirmed the death of at least four corps members and maintains that others remain missing. This week, 50 corps members narrowly escaped being burnt to death in the Nigerian Christian Corpers Fellowship secretariat in Minna, Niger State. Yet other corps members remain missing at the moment, unsettling parents and guardians across the nation.

From all indications, the uprisings that swept across the north — and which we may not have heard the last of — are not entirely political, ethnical, or religious in origin. Despite the fact that people of northern origin have ruled Nigeria for longer than any other region, the north still remains backward in many ways. Many are poor, hungry and semi-literate at best; do not have access to quality healthcare or free qualitative education; are held back from progress by rigid traditional institutions, and have no hope in the present or opportunity for the future.

In a country where ethnic and regional loyalties run deeper than national allegiance, the masses of the north have been underdeveloped by their regional leaders — and these protests are basically an attempt to overthrow the ‘old order’. As Salisu Suleiman explains, “the protests in northern Nigeria can be viewed as rebellion against a backward and anachronistic feudal system. Karshen Zalunci (End of Oppression) might be an apt description”. Sadly, these protests are hardly coherent — with no clear cut plans for achieving lasting change. The protesting youth have achieved nothing of value by indiscriminately turning on innocent people, like corps members who are in these areas for the singular purpose of serving the fatherland.

Are these the same corps members expected to conduct governorship elections on the April 26 — in these same areas? Are there enough security operatives to guarantee their safety over the next few days and during the elections in the roughly 60,000 polling units spread across the north? Is it not safer to order their immediate return to their home states, in the greater interests of their safety? Will they not be in the right if they choose to boycott the governorship elections next Tuesday, in protest of these happenings?

Arrests must be made, and deserving punishments meted out. Urgent steps must be taken to ensure the safety and security of corps members, many of whom remain in these volatile areas solely because of their commitment to INEC. They are the future of this country, and that future must be preserved in good condition, by all means necessary. There is no point posting corps members far away from their home states when their safety and security cannot be guaranteed in the new host communities.
Re: Violence, The North And The NYSC by ayomifull(f): 12:28am On Apr 22, 2011
Those innocent lives would not have been lost if they were posted to their own states to serve

Let us demand for change to NYSC scheme for people to serve in their own states of origin

Lets not wait for more lives to be lost before we voice out
Re: Violence, The North And The NYSC by Koye4sshow(m): 12:45am On Apr 22, 2011

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